For starters, the Department of Veterans Affairs is a gigantic government system with millions of veterans enrolled.
And there are several "divisions" within the VA.
One division of interest to many elderly veterans (and there spouses) is non-service connected disability benefit known as "aid and attendance."
As the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette recently explained in an article titled "Elder Law: Veterans - Never Give Up," these benefits were designed to provide a monthly cash reimbursement benefit to qualifying veterans and their spouses who pay out-of-pocket medical costs, whether at home or in a facility.
The Keystone state is in the top five states when it comes to having the highest veteran populations in the country.
There are somewhere between 700,000 and 1 million people (including widows of veterans) in the state who could qualify for benefits.
Unfortunately, relatively few qualify because of the complex application system and abundant misinformation about the program.
Many veterans receive benefits advice from an initial source and that source may not be spot on regarding that advice.
When the advice is negative, the veteran likely will not pursue the matter further. That "chain of command" thing.
Consequently, they never bother to inquire further.
It would be like receiving a terminal medical diagnosis and not getting a second opinion.
So, what are some of the biggest myths surrounding aid and attendance eligibility?
Here is a short list according to the original article:
- You can't get aid and attendance if you live at home. False. In fact, the benefit is intended to reimburse out-of-pocket medical expenses regardless where you reside. Even if that setting is in your own home with a family member providing care!
- You have too much money or income to qualify. The article says this is just a math problem. Did you know there is no set income or asset limit to qualify for VA benefits? Instead, the VA uses an age-weighted asset/income test to determine eligibility. In addition, there are legitimate estate planning strategies that can help you expedite financial eligibility.
- Why bother? If the veteran or his spouse dies before the VA application is approved, no money is paid. Nope. There are ways to file for a post-death payment to the surviving spouse or heirs, provided the original claim was properly filed and is decided after the applicant's death. Many people are unaware that you can get retroactive benefits even after the applicant dies, but there are deadlines. The next of kin must follow up promptly with the VA.
As you can imagine, there are plenty of other inaccuracies floating around that dissuade would-be applicants from pursuing their aid and attendance benefits.
Get the real G2 from a qualified source of information, such as a VA accredited attorney.
Remember: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” When making your financial, tax and estate plans, do not go it alone. Be sure to engage competent professional counsel.
For more information about estate planning in Overland Park, KS (and throughout the rest of Kansas and Missouri), visit our estate planning website and be sure to subscribe to our complimentary estate planning e-newsletter while you are there.
Reference: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (November 23, 2015) "Elder Law: Veterans - Never Give Up"